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Australia – Thousands in evacuation centres across NSW, Victoria

Saturday, March 3, 2012

 

The Hawkesbury River covers the Yarramundi Bridge
Photo: Onlookers watch the Hawkesbury River rise above the Yarramundi Bridge, eastern NSW. (Marianna Massey: Getty) – ABC News
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Almost 2,000 people from the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley west of Sydney have spent the night in evacuation centres or with family and friends.

The State Emergency Service (SES) is hopeful they will be able to return home soon after rain eased in the region overnight.

Residents from Goulburn were given the all-clear to return home yesterday, but evacuation orders are still in place for Cowra and Cooma.

Elsewhere, a man is missing in floodwaters near Braidwood and at least five others have been rescued from cars caught in flash floods.

Three men in their 40s were swept away after their four-wheel drive got stuck in a swollen creek at Araluen.

One man was rescued downstream while another was found clinging to a tree, but the third is still missing and a search for him will resume this morning.

SES spokeswoman Erin Pogmore says there were five more flood rescues in just 45 minutes around Narrandera overnight.

“Most of these have been from cars that have been trapped by floodwaters that have risen suddenly around them, so it’s not people who have driven into water,” she said.

Ms Pogmore says the evacuation order affecting the Hawkesbury-Nepean region could be lifted this morning.

“We’ve got about 2,900 people all over the state who are affected by evacuation orders but in that particular Hawkesbury-Nepean area, there’s about 1,960, so it’s a fairly large group of people who are still being affected,” she said.
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“We have seen, particularly in the Sydney area, it was quite quiet in terms of call volume for the SES, which is a really good sign, particularly for those residents who are affected by evacuation orders.

“So we’ll be monitoring that throughout the day and hopefully be able to get them back to their properties as soon as possible.”

Riverina
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In southern New South Wales, the Riverina towns of Leeton, Narrandera and Griffith are isolated by floodwaters this morning after unprecedented rain.

The Newell Highway is closed between Narrandera and West Wyalong, and the Sturt Highway closed between Narrandera and Wagga Wagga.

Yanco has had 173mm of rain and Griffith had 130mm, sparking flash flooding over the flat country and causing irrigation canals to overflow.

At Leeton, a motel was flooded and numerous homes in Narrandera and Leeton inundated by what has been described as a wall of water.

Inspector Tony Reneker says no-one has seen rain like it before.

“I’ve asked all the locals in both Leeton and Narrandera; they assure me they’ve never seen anything like it at all,” he said.

“I’m just hoping now that the rain stops. It has been an incredible the amount of water.”

Electricity was cut to 160 homes in the region because of water flows from the Warragamba Dam, which spilled over on Friday for the first time in 14 years
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Victoria
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Further south in Victoria, hundreds of volunteers have worked through the night trying to protect communities in the flood-stricken north-east.

Most of the region received between 40 to 80 millimetres of rain, but the Mount Buffalo Chalet recorded 130 millimetres.

The SES is watching the water levels closely around Numurkah, Nathalia and Katamatite, but is also concerned for areas around Wangaratta, Myrtleford, Bright, Yarrawonga and Mount Beauty.

Several towns are isolated, including Katamatite and Bundalong.

As the runoff makes its way downstream, flooding is possible in some parts of the Ovens, King, Upper Murray and Kiewa River systems.

Premier Ted Baillieu and will inspect the flooded areas today.

Only light showers are expected in the north-east this afternoon, with most of the heavy rain moving back into New South Wales.

The floods are also causing problems at local hospitals, with six pregnant women having to be transferred to Shepparton and Wodonga overnight because of limited staff and accessibility.

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.Updated March 04, 2012 07:30:08
ABC News